WASHINGTON -- Installations across the Army are taking steps to conserve energy and water and increase resiliency, thereby contributing to Army readiness, said Jordan Gillis, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.

On Nov. 2, eight Army installations were recognized by the Department of Energy for their innovative work in energy resilience at the 2017 Federal Energy and Water Management Awards ceremony.

"The Army is honored to have received eight of 27 awards across the federal government this year," said Gillis, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. "We are more than proud of our winners as well as of our other installations that competed."

The garrison teams who made these projects a success "have not only delivered real cost savings to the installations, the Army, and the nation but many also exemplify our energy resilience strategy in action and are significant contributions to Army readiness by providing assurance that quality power and water are available to sustain critical missions," he said.

FORT IRWIN

The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, is located in the high desert. It is among the driest installations in the Army, averaging just 4.2 inches of rainfall per year, according to the National Weather Service.

Over the last few years, California, particularly the southern portion of the state where Fort Irwin is located, has experienced severe drought.

As such, Fort Irwin has been working especially hard to conserve water, which is its most precious resource, said Muhammad Bari, director of Public Works for the installation.

Efforts included identifying high-end users and leaks through water meter monitoring, he said.

The high-end users, it turned out, were the vehicle wash racks at the motor pools and the most leakages came from some defective supply pipes as well as toilets at family housing units, he said.

The toilets and pipes were repaired and a water-recycling initiative was implemented at the wash racks so that the water can now be re-used, he said.

Other steps taken included replacing grass on a playing field with synthetic turf and replacing grass in the housing area and commons with decorative rocks, he said.

Chris Woodruff, energy projects manager for Fort Irwin, estimates that 3 million gallons of water are saved for each unit rotation that comes through and uses the wash racks.

Fort Irwin also recycles water treated at its waste water plant.

Recycled water instead of potable water is now used on the few grassy athletic fields in the cantonment area, he said. Recycled water has also replaced drinking water for use in construction and dust control.

Additionally, most grassy areas on post were replaced with rocks and a few drought-tolerant plants, he said, describing the process as "zero-scaping."

Where water for shrubs is required, drip irrigation has largely replaced spray irrigation, in an effort to reduce evaporation and waste, he added.

Another recently-completed project, Woodruff said, is a new water treatment plant with an efficiency rating of greater than 99 percent. The old plant efficiency was about 50 percent.

Woodruff explained that 99 percent efficiency means that for every gallon of water that goes into the plant, 99 percent comes out clean enough to drink and the rest goes to a containment area where it is evaporated, with the sediments trucked to a disposal site.

The award states in part: Fort Irwin's "water conservation program reduced fresh water usage by 67.7 million gallons compared to fiscal year 2015 -- a savings of 10 percent in one year -- and by almost 182 million gallons from the FY 2007 baseline. This remarkable savings required a combination of initiatives, including a first of its kind mock billing of housing residents for water, which reduced housing demand by 26 percent from the prior year and saved $100,000."

U.S. ARMY CENTRAL COMMAND

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael R. Brotherton, Operational Energy program manager for U.S. Army Central Command, stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, is one of the main proponents credited with helping reduce "the logistical tail" throughout the CENTCOM area, according to his award.

In FY 2016, he developed a plan to replace existing diesel light towers, or DLT, with photovoltaic solar light carts, or PSLC, and then he implemented that plan, the award states.

Each PSLC provides a minimum of 72 hours of run time without the sun and contains a weatherproof electrical outlet, quick charger, and dual-USB charging ports so troops may charge their hand-held or other portable devices, he said.

The first 250 PSLCs of the total 1,907 planned are already saving $6.6 million, along with reducing 63,000 overall man-hours, and savings 1.5 million gallons of fuel annually, the award states.

Man hours are saved, he said, because troops visit each PSLC only once every two weeks to clean the solar panels. On the other hand, DLTs must be visited much more regularly to add fuel and change oil.

The solar light systems are fully automated, unlike the gas generators "that force Soldiers to travel across the base and spend hours turning each system on at night and off in the morning," he added.

The PSLCs have other benefits, he said. For instance, they don't produce waste and their lead-acid batteries can be recycled in most CENTCOM areas.

One the other hand, one DLT generates about 16 pounds of waste in the form of lubricating oil in just the first year of operation, he said. That increases to 40 pounds in the second and subsequent years due to the requirement to replace coolant.

In addition, the PSLCs reduce air pollution by eliminating the exhaust of the DLT, as well as the exhaust from refueling vehicles and the dust they generate, he said.

He calculated that the gallons of fuel saved per year when all PSLCs are installed will equal a reduction of 1,566 tanker trucks' worth of fuel, or an avoidance of 284 million miles driven.

Brotherton shared an observation from CENTCOM:

"Once the lights were turned on, Soldiers noticed that the noise from the gas generators was no longer heard and the solar power light system began producing the same amount of light as the gas cart."

Not content with these savings and benefits, Brotherton said he sent recommendations to the vendors for adding enhancements to the next generation of PSLCs produced.

One recommendation is to equip the units with a flashing/audible panic alarm to alert if there are any aggressors or infiltrators near/in the perimeter where the PSLCs are set up.

Another recommended improvement is to add an optional mast-mounted wind generator, which would increase the ability to recharge the batteries under less than optimal conditions.

Brotherton said he also wants to credit the U.S. Army's construction engineering technicians, along with Army civilians and industry partners, for the work that went into the project.

ARMY RESERVE, FORT BELVOIR, VIRGINIA

U.S. Army Reserve Installation Management Directorate, Fort Belvoir, developed a building energy monitor program and initiated the first Army Reserve net zero program, piloting 10 sites, the award states.

Net zero means the amount of energy consumed is less than or equal to the amount of renewable energy produced on site.

Army Reserve sites throughout the U.S. in FY 2016 saw reductions of 16 percent in energy consumption from the prior year and 20 percent in water consumption from the 2007 baseline, the award reads.

FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY

Through the installation of an energy-efficient 600-ton absorption chiller/chilled-water pumping system and a 2.05-megawatt combined heat and power system, the Fort Knox energy team reduced power usage of its Human Resources Command data center by more than half, according to the award.

To further reduce the data center's energy consumption, the team added a micro-grid power generation substation to the data center complex, resulting in about $142,900 in energy savings in FY 2016, a 35 percent savings, it reads.

IMCOM HEADQUARTERS

U.S. Army Installation Management Command's Energy and Utilities team contributed to energy and water cost avoidance in excess of $100 million Army-wide, "thereby allowing redistribution to other IMCOM programs critically short of funding," the award states.

Best practices employed by the team include quarterly teleconferences with all energy managers to collaborate and share lessons learned and development of a Building Energy Monitor Program handbook that incorporates best practices and feedback solicited from garrison energy managers, it reads.

"IMCOM installations far exceeded their goals by reducing energy consumption by 6.4 percent and potable water consumption by 2.6 percent in FY 2016 from the prior fiscal year while producing almost 2.8 trillion British ton units from renewable sources," the award concludes.

USAG FORT A.P. HILL, VIRGINIA

Fort A.P. Hill's Directorate of Public Works reduced the garrison's FY 2016 energy usage by 23.4 percent from the prior year, resulting in a utility savings of more than $583,000. Also, fuel usage was reduced by 93 percent through conversion of fuel-oil-fired heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems to propane or electric, the award states.

Also, the conversion of fuel-oil burning equipment eliminated the need for above- and below-ground storage tanks, which had previously created environmental concerns due to potential leaks and ground-water contamination, it reads.

MAUI, HAWAII

Between FY 2015 and 2016, the 9th Mission Support Command on Maui, Hawaii, reduced energy consumption at Kaoru Moto Army Reserve Center by 36 percent using a 99-kilowatt solar array and improved lighting and climate control systems. The center also reduced water consumption by 70 percent, compared to the 2007 baseline, reads the award.

Most notably, the award states that the Reserve center is the first site in the entire Army to achieve 100-percent net zero energy, a milestone that occurred this year.

USAG PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA

Over the past year, the Presidio of Monterey realized a 37-percent increase in energy efficiency and savings of more than $600,000 in energy, water and maintenance costs, the award states.

The Presidio reduced energy and water through the installation of a grid-connected one-megawatt solar array designed to produce 1,600 megawatt-hours annually and a xeriscaping project that converted three acres of turf to drought-resistant landscaping and a passively irrigated field, it reads.

The presidio also increased its data center power-usage efficiency by 33 percent by reconfiguring servers and power distribution units, it concludes.